tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN March 31, 2017 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
it's quite the opposite and again i think that that compared to the narrative that you hear from a lot of folks in this room all the time is a little bit opposite. here you have a president telling mike flynn and others to go up there, make sure in fact we talked about the other day with members of the administration, that the president volunteered. this doesn't look at an administration that isn't doing everything it can to get to the bottom of this in an appropriate way. that's been lost on a lot of you. that every action we have taken -- we've got up here and we've talked about russia and the lack of connection. we've talked about the fact that every single person who has been briefed has come away saying none exists. and yet at the end of the day, the narrative still comes at us and now we're going to a point where we encourage people to talk to the house and intelligence committee, the appropriate investigators, so they can continue to get to the bottom of this. that's quite the opposite and
normally somebody who is not trying to get to the bottom of this. >> back on february 9th, the president said that he would be presenting a phenomenal tax plan in the next two or three weeks. tomorrow is april 1st. we haven't seen that tax plan. can you tell us when the president is going to present his plan? >> i think, as you noticed yesterday, secretary mnuchin and gary cohen and others on the team talked to the president about the process and i think we are working on engaging with key stakeholders and when we feel it's appropriate that the president is giving the appropriate amount of feedback, we'll talk about the process we envision. at this time, the discussion is ongoing. we recognize -- as you know, we anticipated fully being engulfed in health care and i think we're accelerating that. the president has his team working overtime. he's been giving them feedback as far as what he wants to see
and how he wants to see it. but this is a big task. >> is this going to be like health care where we thought we'd see a proposal but in the end the president signed on to paul ryan's plan? >> i would -- first, i would dispute that we signed on to someone's plan. we worked with the house, as you know, we were very on board. i would suggest to you that we signed on to a plan. it was a work that both sides worked together on. we worked with the senate as well. and i think this plan, i would assume that hopefully we'd come up with a plan that we all agree on. the president will put out principles, i'm sure, in terms of what his goals are and drive this as the process moves forward. we're going to have a robust debate about that plan and certain divisions and other tax pieces. we'll work with the house and senate on it. >> and during the campaign, the president is gearing up for this meeting with chinese president at mar a l-a-lago.
>> yes. >> during the campaign he suggested that china was a currency manipulator. why hasn't the president followed through with his campaign promise? >> i think we need to have that meeting with president xi. there will be discussions about our economic relationship. we are days away from that. let's see what those -- i just don't want to prejudge. we're days away from it. a lot of issues need to come up. >> if i may, does the administration plan to order a review into china's status? >> at this time, the two trade executive orders that focus on the counterveilling duties are where we're going to look. we have a lot and that's an issue that we hope to have that the u.s. trade representative confirmed but that's a combined decision. i think in consultation with the
department of commerce and treasury, but let's see how we go first. >> do you clear up where the president stapds on whether bashar al assad is a legitimate president of syria? >> i think with respect to assad, there's a political reality that we have to accept in terms of where we are right now. we lost a lot of opportunity the last administration with respect to assad and i think that the statement that nikki haley gave yesterday and rex tillerson, we have an opportunity and need to f focus on defeating isis. the u.s. has profound priorities in syria and iraq and made it clear that counterterrorism, particularly the defeat of isis, is foremost of the priorities.
but i think there's a bit of a political reality to where we are now compared to the last administration in terms of -- there is not the opposition that existed last time and the opportunities that existed last time. >> so you're telling me that you're saying whether or not he's legitimate, if you were to declare him illegitimate, there's nothing that the united states could do about that? >> i think there's a bit of a reality that has to be addressed with respect to the opportunity and the options that we have now that we don't have or didn't -- they had in the last administration and there's a reality that just doesn't exist. >> as nato partners, obviously assad is not going to retire somewhere in the south of france. something's got to give. what is the thought there? what is the disposition that
could be a conversation in terms of assad who was very close in the mediterranean. >> i think there's a need to de-escalate violence and have a political process through which the syrians will decide their own future under u.n. 2254. there's a bit of reality on the ground in terms of what the options are. >> during the presidential campaign, the president said he was with the state north carolina banning transgender people from using certain bathrooms. there was a new measure that civil rights groups say is discriminatory. does the president support this law? >> i have not asked the president. he believes in states rights. >> what is the president's
personal view on transgender people and -- >> i think the president made it clear, this issue came up when caitlyn jenner visited the white house. >> given that it's non -- why will the white house not be releasing the president's 2016 tax returns given that they can't be under audit yet while the audit has been the reason for the release of the past returns. >> the president has been very clear about his tax returns and his position on that. there is a requirement for every federal employee at a certain level to file financial disclosure forms. it's the first time, i believe, that they are on the white house website. we are making them more
accessible and more available than in history. >> why not make this -- >> i think that's apples and oranges. because these are required by law. these lists, just for everyone who's not familiar with them, the financial disclosure forms that we file, i think it's called a 278, reveal every asset you own, every debt that you have, your spouses income, your spouse's employment, holdings that you have, credit card debt, i mean, it is a fairly comprehensive undertaking of every asset that a person owns, every debt that they have and i think that's a very clear understanding of the assets that people have, the value of those assets both in terms of whether they are worth something or the liabilities that they are incurring. that's a very transparent way of being able to understand someone's -- and so to equate the two is rather -- >> sure. i was just using that as a jumping off point for the tax returns. >> well, i'll jump back.
>> so if the audit is not the reason -- >> remember, taxes aren't due until the 15th of april. >> so can we expect them? >> i don't know. we haven't really gotten into that. i'm worried about getting my own done. but i think -- again, i think that, respectfully, you look at what we're doing -- and again, this will be discussed after this is done, i think there is an element of going above and beyond what has been done in the past to make sure people have access to this. there's a lot of people -- one of the interesting things is that people will see today -- and i think it's something that should be celebrated, the president has brought a lot of people into this administration and this white house in particular who have been very blessed and successful by this country and have given up a lot to come into government by setting aside a lot of assets and i think it speaks volume to the desire for a lot of these people to fulfill the
president's agenda and move it forward that they are willing to list their assets, undergo this public scrutiny and set aside a lot. you'll see people are often told they need to sell an asset to come serve in the government. there's a lot of people that have done a lot to come into this administration and give back that have been inspired by the president's victory and the president's agenda to move the country forward. jim? >> general flynn's attorney said that his client has a story to tell. is the white house concerned that general flib has damaging information about the president, his aides, his associates about what happened with respect to russia? >> nope. >> and the other thing i want to follow up on that, you were saying a few moments ago that some of this information that would be helpful to the committee, you were talking about evelyn farkas and so pa , forth, that seems to be during
the transition. but the president talks about tapping his phones in october just prior to the election. "just found out obama had my phones tapped just before the victory." does the white house have any information or providing any information to these intelligence committees that would draw these members to the conclusion that there was some kind of surveillence going on before the election, as the president alleged? >> if we're splitting hairs on what day of the calendar it was, that's an interesting development. i think we have now come to a place where we can -- >> it's the president's allegations. >> if the understand is it was on the 1st of december versus the 31st of october, i think we're splitting serious hair here. again, it's interesting that now we're arguing over the date, not the substance. and the substance is, why were people using government resources, violating civil
liberties potentially, looking into people's backgrounds to surveil them and understand what they were doing and who they were, to unmask them and to provide sources and spread classified information make it available to other places that they weren't supposed to. hold on. i think it's interesting -- i get your question but if what we're really arguing is did it happen on a monday or tuesday or the 31st versus the 7th or the 8th, we've lost focus here. >> i'm just saying that it is fascinating to me that we are now arguing over the date, not the substance. i understand your point. if we get down to that and you want to get into what date, i think it's really getting lost in this debate that american
citizens, who were not government employees at the time, who were not targets of stuff, potentially were surveilled, had their information unmasked, it was politically spread and all of this -- and it should be very concerning to people that an administration or people in an administration, people serving in government who are providing classified information, given clearance and the trust of the united states government, misused, mishandled and potentially did some very, very bad things with classified information. that astonishes me that that is not the subject of this. that all of this is happening in our country and yet the subject -- and again, we talk about what door someone came in and what date it happened. there is a concern that people misused, mishandled, misdirected classified information, leaked it out, spread it out, violated civil liberties and the potential that has happened
should concern every single american. >> to follow up on that, we are concerned about the substance but the details matter and it seems like we're going further. it sounds like you are, just as the president is alleging that the obama administration conducted unlawful surveillance on the trump campaign and trump transition team. >> what i am saying very clearly is what has been provided, as i said in a statement, i believe that what has been provided and will be provided to members of both committees i think should further their investigation. i think that the revelations of evelyn farkas, who played a senior role in the obama administration, going on the record to talk about how they politically used classified information is troubling. i believe that the reports that are coming out day by day that nbc just reported that john
detailed, what fox has reported, day by day, we're seeing the substance of what we've been talking about continues to move directly in the direction that the president spoke about with regard to surveillance that occurred. that should be troubling and something that everyone looks at saying, what is going on here, who did it and how are we going to get to the bottom of it. that's what concerns me. steve holland? >> i'd like to talk about china. the president said the meeting next week will be a difficult one and he referred to massive trade deficits. what sort of tone is he hoping to set for this meeting? >> well, i think he's been -- >> and why is it going to be so difficult? >> i don't think it's a surprise, we have both national security issues in terms of our political posture towards north korea, the threat of a missile that extends further and further, the tests that they're
using, their nuclear capability. and we have serious concerns about the trade practices with them and there's a lot of areas we need to be concerned about with trade and i think that is going to -- this isn't a sit around and play patty cake. the president has been making it very clear since for decades, frankly, of the challenges that we face and wants to have a very good and respectful and healthy relationship but wants to make sure we get to them. >> the question is, president
trump signed an executive order that intends to deny funding to cities that refuse to share immigration status information. attorney general sessions recently suggested that cities could not only use future funds but that the federal government may require them to pay back grants. will there be -- when and will this take place and will that money be reallocated to other departments like the department of education or hpcus? >> well, i'm not -- i would say that the president finds it unacceptable that some localities and potential states prioritize a political agenda over the safety of their people by flattering our immigration laws being so-called sanctuary
cities. the failure to follow federal law could have tragic consequences and it's concerning in places like chicago and other places like yours in philadelphia where there's been increased violence. immigrants, both legal and illegal, are not safe and those who commit egregious acts are free to roam the streets. with respect to a budget piece, we have a budget process and we'll have to see how many states comply and where, if any, potential savings there and i think the president's budget, both his fy 17 budget for funding beyond the continuing resolution on april 28th and his fy 18 budget that he's already submitted will reflect key priorities both in terms of homeland security and national defense. so we'll see where we would
reallocate any of that money. the priority is clear to get cities into compliance and make sure there's not just a financial impact but also a very clear security aspect of this. glenn? >> two things, sean. first, a follow-up on something that you said before. you said hillary clinton had personal contact with vladimir putin and the suggestion was that it was not necessarily appropriate. >> no, i'm not saying that's the contact of it itself is not -- >> as a citizen or -- >> when you talk about connections to russia, the only connection that anyone's made with president trump is multiple years ago he had a pageant there and some of the -- he owns condos around the world and some were sold to russians and i think he sold a house to one several years back. that's his connection. when you talk about the other side, you look at what the obama administration's connections were, you have a secretary of state selling a fifth of our
country's uranium. you have a clinton foundation concern with some of the donations they got. you have the former president, her husband, getting a personal call from vladimir putin. you have a stated goal of that administration of secretary clinton to have a reset to, quote, strengthen russia. so when you compare the two sides in terms of who's actually engaging with russia, trying to strengthen them, trying to interact with them, it's night and day between our actions and her actions and yet no one questioned what she was doing or how she was handling it and yet -- >> her pattern of behavior is more suspicious than -- >> i think if you compare the two, when you talk about the stuff that went to their foundation, the concerns that existed around the sale of one-fifth of all of the kourn country's uranium, the paid speeches and personal calls from vladimir putin, when you look at a connection to russia, there's a clearer one there and a lesser one that existed on this side.
>> so sean, in terms of the nunes chronology, just to clarify, when we're asking about questions like gates and people, we're not trying to ascertain the complex. we want to know who knew what and when. mr. nunes was on the campus. we don't know who let him in the gate but apparently it is -- you describe that as a normal process, right? tell me if it's normal the way that i'm describing it. mr. nunes, had of an investigatory committee, is allowed to roam around to speak to two deputy level members and allowed to obtain an appointment with the president of the united states to talk about that information and then goes public with that information and then seven or so days later you say it would be appropriate for
everybody to come down here and look at it. is that a normal process? >> a, i would take issue with a number of the aspects of your chronology. number one, which you're for getting, initially he's the one who publicly said well before any of this came to light in terms of the president's march 5th tweet that he was looking into this whole matter. he, according to john roberts, said neither of those individuals as described in your paper's reporting are accurate. i would dispute several pieces. and then as far as him roaming around the white house. >> you know that's not what i meant. >> you jumped to a son of conclusions about -- i love watching some of these shows where they jump to conclusions. >> prejudge the investigation is clearing the white house. you've said it twice at the podium today. >> right. i'm focused on the substance of this, glenn. and so where is any of the reporting ban in your paper about evelyn farkas and her revelation that this is wa they
soug what they sought to do. you seem to be really focused on who showed up where and what door they went in and how it happened. to answer your question, yes, it's appropriate for a member of congress to contact someone who was contacted him according to some of these reports. is it appropriate for a member of congress to come over here, as chairman nunes said he wasn't hiding or roaming. he was asked to come over by an individual. he came over, which happens daily. he was asked to go somewhere. he went there. he's cleared and nothing that is inappropriate and exactly the opposite. what he did, what he saw and who he met with was 100% proper. >> does the chief of staff, who is, my understanding, an exceptionally attentive gatekeeper, did the chief of staff know that he was on the campus? did he approve his -- >> you're playing cute there. you're doing two things. one, you're talking about the oval office and the other one is
the campus. so, no, the chief of staff does not know every single person on the 18 acres at any given time. they are people who are aaprop ately cleared or escorted on in some way, shape or form. no, we don't track every person on the 18 acres. do we always know who is in the oval office? not all the time. we sat back here, he made the announcement and you're leaving out a key part. he briefed the press before he told anyone. we all found out, you, me, everyone else that is coming down here after he held a press conference with your colleagues to say he was doing something based on something he found that didn't have to do with russia that a whistle blower had given him. i also believe that some of the comments that have come out
publicly in terms of some of the obama administration are conveniently left out of that discussion. i think that that is interesting, how no one seems to really cover the fact that a senior obama administration, with high level clearance, has talked about the spreading of classified information for political purposes and no one seems to care. >> so just to be clear, mr. priebus, kushner and bannon did not have knowledge of his being on the campus, having this interaction with -- >> i don't know. you asked two questions and you melded them together. no one knew that he was coming to speak to the president. he announced that on television during a press conference. >> yeah. my understanding is that dr. farkas left the administration in 2015. >> okay. >> so why is what she said in 2017 relevant to something that allegedly happened in 2016? >> the question i would ask you is, exactly? she said, i'm urging my colleagues to get to the hill but it's odd that the
presumption is, why is it interesting? have you asked her? no, you haven't. she's been on television talking about what she's done. i would assume that as a reporter that actually is interested in the story, a senior obama administration official that handled russia, that -- all obama administration officials generally. thank you. i appreciate the timeline. i'm well aware of when it was. my point is, you seem to be rushing to her defense. at some point, she came on television and talked about actions that she and her colleagues took to spread classified information and instead of depending her, it might be worth asking her what she's talking about, who she's spreading it to and who cleared her to do it. maybe you could ask that instead of asking me why a former obama administration official is revealing stuff that should be
extremely concerning. >> one other question, which is, are you more concerned about that or russian interference in the presidential election? >> well, i think that as an american citizen i'm very concerned about the fact that people were potentially sharing information about other americans for political purposes and using classified information to do so and leaking it. that should be concerning to everybody. >> the russian interference -- >> that's not what i said. >> which is worse? >> i guess the question is, if someone is interfering with our election, that's not good. i don't think someone revealing and leaking classified information is good either. i don't think you should have to choose. you should have outrage and concern for both and i don't think we should have to pick, as an american, whether or not which freedom we want to have undermine. we should expect both of them. so the idea that we should have to choose whether or not we want somebody to interfere with our election or protect our civil
liberties is not something that we should want. >> can i ask three basic follow-up questions. you've used two phrases here today. one is particularly sensitive information and the other is classified information when you're talking about what the president believes was released. because you said yesterday that you yourself had not seen information and that's my understanding as of today, are those terms interchangeable or different in thames of what you know from the podium was released. >> there's actually a classification level. there is certain information on individuals while not classified is are canned stuff that the government protects. then there's secret, top secret and without getting into it, there's a lot higher. while you may not reveal a piece of classified information, fbi
information is sensitive information according to the government standards so they are different. each has a different classification level. >> but it's your understanding, you've been told that the material that the president is sharing with the committees includes classified information as well as politically sensitive information. that's your understanding? >> you said congressman schiff is coming today? >> he's made contact and is trying to arrange a time. >> and can you share with us who will be responsible for escorting him to the proper place showing him the materials, walking him through it, letting him absorb it. is he bringing staff? can you explain that? >> a lot of it will detail who is requesting it. i know a request was made and
there's follow up with the staff to go overall of that. >> the material that they have wanted to share with the house and senate committees, has it been shared or does the fbi already have the materials? >> i don't know the answer to that. i don't know. it's nsc that pulls material from the various agencies. where that all came from, is it a single source, a combination, i don't know the answer to that. part of it is, there's a question of the ability or right to release it. as much as i appreciate where it came from, i think again it comes to the three-letter agency or is this issue, whether or not as i said before, whether or not there is a concern about what that information is doing and who used it i am porl and what possibly could have happened. again, that's where it came
from. >> the fbi has a separate investigation. i'm asking, the president believes he has information that is germain to that. >> just so we're clear, the investigation pertains specifically to what the director said in open testimony to russia. what the president -- this is not what i believe they are investigating or -- >> that's what i understood. i thought the fbi had broadened the investigation simply beyond russia. >> i don't know. i'm not aware of that. >> if you could just find out -- >> no. you can call the fbi. i'm not going to call the fbi and ask them what their investigation is and then you'll write a story about -- >> i'm asking you, does the president believe that it's important for the fbi to have the information that he finds to be so egregiously offensive that sensitive information was shared by the previous administration.
i'm asking you a simple question. >> you think it's simple. the reality is, it depends. you're acting as though it's a very -- you're acting as though it's a very simple process. it depends on the level of classification, who it came from, whether they have the authority to share it. there's a lot of things that go into this and i know it sounds really easy. it's not. and i think that -- i know a lot of times just because it can get leaked out doesn't mean it's being handled appropriately. there's a desire to make sure it's being done correctly and within the proper guidelines of who has the authority to see the right things. it doesn't mean we get to willy-nilly send it around to whoever it is. john? >> thanks a lot, sean. this morning, the republican chairman on the house oversight, jason chaffetz, of utah took
issue with the president's tweet. he does not believe the russian investigation being conducted by the fbi, senate intelligence committee, by the house intelligence committee is a witch hunt. why does the president believe it's a witch hunt? he also said that he doesn't think it's proper for the president to tweet out or comment on ongoing investigations. can you also touch on that as well? >> well, i think part of it comes down to who has access to what information and what they are looking at. so i don't know what he's seen or not seen and whether it's appropriate. again, the reason that we've asked the house and intelligence committees to look into this is to make sure that we get to the bottom of it in an appropriate and proper manner. >> commenting on an ongoing investigation, is that proper by the president? there's an investigation ongoing by the fbi right now. >> okay. >> ongoing investigation is ongoing by the senate
intelligence committee. >> okay. and -- so which comment are you referring to. >> the witch hunt. >> as i just said to alexis, there's a difference between the investigations that have been discussed about russia that we have been very clear about and a discussion about whether something, as devin nunes said very publicly, the information that he had with respect to surveillance during the 2016 election cycle had nothing to do with russia. there's this seeming assumption that what the president is talking about is very clear. that there is this ongoing pattern and more and more revelations that what we have seen is that something potentially was very, very bad and people were using classified information, not with respect to russia but to surveilled people during that cycle. and i think that is adversely different. as far as i know, we've asked them to look into this matter. there's no investigation that i'm aware of. >> so you take issue with jason
chaffetz? >> i'll let him speak for himself. i believe chairman nunes would look at this information and probably a much better position to explain. i'm going to go to he had barred marshal from wbbm in chicago. >> actually, it's derek from wbbm in chicago. i want to follow up as well. chicago receives about $12 million by the fred dederal government. would donald trump cut that assistance off for being a sanctuary city? >> we cut off the funding for sanctuary cities. i this i it would be interesting to spend more money to a city that is allowing people to come
into the country breaking the law and in many cases committing crimes, a number of gangs. so you can't be a sanctuary city and at the same time seem to pretend are oh express concern about law enforcement or ask for more money when probably a number of funds you're using in the first place are going to law enforcement, to handle the situation that you've created for yourself. i think the president's belief on sanctuary cities is shared by upwards of 80% of people, that we shouldn't fund cities and counties and potentially states that are seeking to allow people who are not illegally in this country and can do us harm and get funding. it's not a question of what he will do. his intentions seem very clear from the beginning and it's vastly supported by the vast majority of people. to suggest that they are not linked is a failure to fully appreciate the scenario.
>> let me follow up. does that cause the president to be more concerned with deporting illegal immigrants than he is with putting shooters and killers in jail? >> no. because if a shooter or a killer is here illegally and is in this country, again, i think you're delinking the two issues. if they are part of a gang, part of their -- a threat to public safety or committing a crime, then funding that activity and allowing that to fester is in itself a problem. by not rooting that out is allowing the problem to condition and not exactly showing an attempt to solve it in the first place. blake? >> let me ask you about the two executive orders. is it purely coincidence that the president is set to meet with his counterpart next week
or is it somewhat setting the tab table for what might come next week? >> counter veiling duties is not something targeted at any specific country. so i don't think you could use that as some kind of indication of any one country. i think we're giving up $2.8 million a year and that's coming all across. so that one and the other one specifically talks about every form of trade abuse contributing to our deficit. there's a lot of countries that contribute to that and i think the trade agreements we've made haven't been looked at or revived in a very long time. >> you mentioned that the president signaled a whole host of others like keystone and
others. it talks about a 90-day review. the one outstanding is nafta and what the president might do with that. does that move the nafta timeline potentially back 90 days? does he want to see this 90-day review first before going to nafta? >> i think he wants to get the trade representative at the helm to really shepherd the trade agenda. i know that peter and secretary ross were here yesterday and secretary ross and mnuchin and others have been very involved but we really need someone at the front of the ship to help guide us through. major? >> you frequently tell us when the president says mike flynn should get immunity, is he suggesting to congress to grant immunity? >> i think mike flynn should do what is appropriate for mike flynn. >> they cannot obtain immunity.
it must be granted. is the president recommending to the fbi or congress to grant immunity? because that's the only way to have it happen. >> i understand that. i don't i said congress should grant. >> what does he mean? >> he supports mike flynn's attempts to go before congress and be clear with everything that they ask and what they want. >> he said he should get immunity. every lawyer who works on this tells you it's important to seek it and obtain it. there's only one way to seek it. either being granted by the fbi or by congress and for the president of the united states to even lightly indicate that he's in favor of that seems to be a significant development. i'm trying to understand if that's what the president is -- >> i'm trying to answer the question which is -- not that i've talked to the president about this. the president is very clear, he wants mike flynn to be open and transparent and whatever it
takes. >> even if he doesn't obtain immunity? >> i want to be clear, he wants him to do what is necessary to go up there and talk to the committees and jurisdiction to get this behind us. >> he was not trying to suggest to the fbi or justice department that it grant immunity, is my point? >> i'm not entirely sure of the process, whether congress does it or doj or both in this case. i get it but -- but the bottom line is -- he's ininstructing mike flynn to do everything that he should to cooperate with the committees. >> you said congressman schiff is coming over here. >> let me continue, i know he's communicated our expectation is that -- >> sometimes you -- i want to read you something. the committee has asked the white house to direct the
agencies that own the intelligence documents in question to immediately provide them directly to the committee. has the white house had any problems that -- >> we're looking into that. obviously we would have hoped that congressman schiff would come and see these documents. the council's office is in contact. >> do you see any problem -- >> major, respectfully, the council's office is working with them. i don't want to get in front of how they make a decision on that. >> schiff is asking the same thing, too, is this an illegitimate request. that's all i'm trying to figure out. >> it's not an illegitimate -- i think the goal would be -- again, the white house counsel's office sent that letter. they are the ones that they have been in contact with. we'd like them to see that information which is what we think would help them further their review of the situation. what i'm telling you, it's not my decision major. this is a discussion that is occurring between both of those
committees and the white house counsel's office. >> as a representative of his president -- >> i understand that. as you're telling me, the slchif piece is happening in realtime and happening while we're here. i don't have an answer for us on that. the white house counsel's office is in communication with the committee and with congressman schiff's office about arranging how that would go down. i don't know what further discussions they've had since we've been out here. >> very quickly, the u.s. is giving up money in counter veiling and [ inaudible ] and i was hoping that you could clarify the facts on that. >> i lost -- i'll have to ask peter. >> you made serious allegations about civil liberties, potentially mishandling classified information.
if the white house had evidence of that, why wouldn't they hand it over to the agency tasked with -- >> because i think the -- first of all, i don't know what we will or will not do going forward. what i do know is that the house and intelligence committees, they are the committees that the president asked on that sunday a few weeks ago to look into this and i think that's who was conducting and who we've asked to look into it. that's appropriate. i'm not aware that anyone else provided us with that information. >> you said we don't track every person on the 18 acres. >> no. he asked about whether or not the chief of staff knew everyone who was on the 18 acres. that's what he asked. >> when it comes to that, do you have any new information about how the chairman did get onto the campus, who -- >> as i said the last few days, i'm not going to -- >> i'm sorry. the records -- >> all of that will happen as soon as there's a discussion about a lot of that in the
briefing that will talk about the financial disclosure forms as immediately as this concludes. so with that, thank you guys very much. we're going to get on to the next briefing. thank you very much. all right. here we go. you've been listening to the sean spicer daily briefing. i'm brook baldwin. this is cnn. a lot of questions regarding general michael flynn, the now fired national security adviser from the trump administration. his attorney is seeking immunity to testify before congress. president trump shocking a lot of people with going so public, weighing in on this over twitter, seemingly defending his national security adviser. the tweet for you here, "mike flynn should ask for immunity." you know the story, flynn was fired for misleading officials about his own dealings with the russian ambassador to the u.s.
"general flynn certainly has a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit." we've learned today that a senate source has suggested they are unlikely to accept the offer. so let me bring in my panel on this. james, first to you, former fbi former assistant, specifically, the senate has said it's too early to decide on the immunity deal but it's unlikely. if you're representing general flynn, what's the strategy in requesting it? >> the presumption has to be that any attorney advising a client appearing before a senate or house and you can't presume that means you have something to hide. >> what does he mean by he has a story to tell.
the aides got immune when they testified means a presumption of guilt. if he said something before the fbi beforehand and said something. >> general flynn himself as well talked about immunity in september. here's my question, general flynn back in september said, "when you are given immunity, that means that you have probably committed a crime." but that is not necessarily the case. >> right. i agree. that's not necessarily the case. what i would focus on more in this case is not simply the request for the immunity but the fact that it was done publicly and the fact that his lawyer has dangled the possibility that he
has more of the play here. >> the dangling of information, since it is so public, it's not like it's helpful information or some sort of dirt or they would keep it to themselves. no? >> well, that's what i think. and i wrote on a security blog about this that the fact that they have made this public request for immunity and also the fact that they are asking for -- seem to be asking for immunity without giving any kind of a preview of the information that he has to give suggests to me that he's not appealing to the prosecutors. the prosecutors would do it quietly and he's making an appeal to the congressional committees and which would then complicate any efforts later on for something criminally he may
have done. >> and the president has made his own appeal on twitter. we can throw it back up on the screen. tim o'brien, author of "trump nation," the fact that the president weighed in on this so publicly, sean spicer talked about this in the briefing, why would he do this so publicly and he said that the president believes general flynn should testify and he wants, quote, the story to get out there. are you surprised that the president waded in these waters? >> absolutely not. what doesn't he wade into? we're at a point where nothing the president does around process issues is surprising, which i think is unfortunate. it would be judicious of him to hold back in moments like this and let the process run its course in a completely nonpartisan way. unfortunately, we're in the middle of an investigation that has been highly politicized.
and spicer and the rest of team trump keep defaulting to, well, what about hillary clinton? she had a conversation with the russians. and that's become a fairly lame argument. i think they have to come forward with their best accounting to what occurred. >> the president did weigh in on this and, to use your word, being judicious. is there any issue with the law with the president tweeting about this publicly or no? >> no, i don't -- i'm not sure i see a legal issue. it reinforces my belief that flynn is not asking for immunity here because he's ready to hand up some higher-up officials and give some smoking gun information i think he's looking for immunity just to protect himself but wouldn't expect -- there's no indication that he's,
at this point, ready to give some good information. and president trump's tweet reinforces that belief on my part. >> james, the phone calls, the contacts that general flynn had with the russian ambassador discussions sanctions, we don't know much more as far as context is concerned. would that phone call in and of itself warrant a request for immunity? >> it wouldn't but i think it's standard practice and can't expect him to go in there and testify without getting it. again, the distinction between transactional and use immunity, it's only your statements that can't be used against you. that doesn't preclude the fbi agents who are going to be listening in on this from taking down notes and following those leads. they can't use the statements that he gives before congress but they can go after those leads. >> okay. one chunk of the news conference today. the other bit with sean spicer, still all of these continued questions trying to seek more information on this story
involving the house intel committee chairman devin nunes, the secret rendezvous over to the white house and all of this unmasking that he's been talking so much about. white house officials giving this information and the questions still coming in to sean spicer who has perfected the art of deflect, deflect, deflect. case in point. >> are you more concerned about that or russian interference? >> well, i think if i'm an american citizen, i've very concerned that people are sharing information for political purposes and using classified information to do so and leaking it. that should be concerning to everybody. >> the russian interference -- >> that's not what i said. i guess i don't -- the answer is, if someone is interfering with our election, that's not good. i don't think someone revealing
and leaking information is good either. i'm not sure that you should have to choose. >> eli lake, columnist for "bloomberg view," you spoke to nunes earlier in the week and he misled you. before we get to that, sean spicer, you have these journalists asking perfectly legitimate questions and they're getting nowhere. >> well, what else is new? he's the spokesman for the white house. it's a long tradition of that kind of thing. >> what about authenticity with regard to sean spicer and the chairman supposed to be part of this impartial investigation into ties with russia and the trump campaign and all of a sudden, still, there's no transparency? >> they presented the initial story last week as if chairman nunes was informing president trump about information he was getting from kind of independent
intelligence officials and what we now know -- and i reported in my column that came out last night -- is that senior national security council official discovered a lot of these what they consider to be inappropriate intelligence reports that included information on the front transition. while he was doing a review of the a justice department regulation of sharing raw intercepts with the intelligence community and sent that to the white house counsel. the notion that president trump would be unaware of it and would need chairman nunes to tell him about it, that's been blown apart. in my view, the underlying issue, which i think all of this -- for as far as we know and chairman nunes has said this, too, it's probably legal but i think that the government has the ability to collect massive amounts of communications of u.s. persons without a fisa warrant and we need to be able to trust the
eavesdroppers not to use that information to affect our politics or invade the privacy of american citizens. for a long time, groups like the aclu and others have raised this issue. it's come up before. and at least it a i peeppears i have happened during the trump transition and i would hope that the committees would conduct oversight of that issue in addition to the extremely important matter of how the russians interfered in our elections and whether anybody, who was connected to the trump campaign had helped them in that. >> in the top of the piece, point blank, how did the chairman mislead you? >> he told me it was an intelligence official and, in fact, it was people who worked at the nsc. he says that they confirmed information for him but at that point, i think it's parsing and, in my view, i had to write
letters to let them know when the story changes and it was a tough column and that's how it is. >> devin nunes and the tragedy the russia inquiry on bloomberg. eli, thank you so much. gentlemen, good to see you. >> thank you. the administration dealing with more firestorms in its first 70 days than most do in a year. david axelrod in new york joining me here to talk through a lot. you're watching cnn's special live coverage. i'm brook baldwin. i moved upstate because i was interested in building a career. i came to ibm to manage global clients and big data. but i found so much more. ( ♪ ) it's really a melting pot of activities and people. (applause, cheering) new york state is filled with bright minds like victoria's. to find the companies and talent of tomorrow, search for our page, jobsinnewyorkstate on linkedin. essential for him,age,
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welcome back. i'm brook baldwin. questions directed to sean spicer about the fact that we have now learned through the now fired national security adviser general mike flynn, lawyers saying that they have a story to tell, they were requesting immunity. president trump tweeting about it today. spicer saying that he wants him to testify, get the story out there. let's pause for a second and look back at how both then candidate trump and general flynn spoke about the concept of immunity as early at last year. >> the very last thing that john podesta just said is no individual too big to jail, that should include people like hillary clinton. i mean, five people around her have been given immunity to include her former chief of staff when you're given immunity, you've probably
committed a crime. >> her ringleaders were given immunity. and if you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right? here's my question for hillary clinton. can you promise that not one of the five people who were granted immunity would ever be allowed to serve in a clinton administration. >> uma's been a problem. i wonder if uma is going to stay there and i hope they haven't given huma immunity because it seems that everybody who walked down the sidewalk got immunity. i hope they haven't given huma immunity because she knows the real